27 December 2006

Small Town, Small World

But even still, isn't it a bit odd to have already run into two people I know from London in less than a week? And the same thing happens when I'm in New York or (to a somewhat lesser extent) San Francisco. It's as though the several hundred people I know well enough to have a meaningful conversation with are not only constantly bouncing around the world much like myself, but that most of the bouncing is done within a few neighbourhoods of a select few cities where everybody either knows each other or knows someone who does.

Never mind, though. I'm sure someone, if not several someones, has already written more eloquently and perceptively about this aspect of globalisation than I could ever hope to, so why don't I get back to the fluffy, superficial stuff I'm more likely to excel at. The beach, for example. Today it was actually sunny and warm enough to go swimming and lie around basting in Factor 30+ for several relaxing hours. I even brought a portable radio - remember those? - so I could listen to England getting basted at the cricket, which seemed to annoy the perma-permed, nipple-pierced bronze Adonis who had unfurled his designer beach blanket and D&G bum bag next to me. He huffed and puffed ostentatiously as he plugged earphones into his mobile and repeatedly pushed them further and further into his ears, as if only the greatest effort and volume would suffice to drown out that dreadful sporting noise.

It's not that I'm a massive cricket fan myself, but the commentary, especially on the radio, ranges from soothing background noise - sort of like a languid, midsummer American baseball game - to wry and downright hilarious. The best bit is when the English BBC announcer comes in as a guest host; the interplay between him and the the ABC's Australian announcer is an artful blend of drollery and crassness, and not always originating where you might think it would. For instance, today the BBC man was telling an elongated anecdote that had something to do with a toilet - a "thunderbox," he called it at at one point - while the ABC man lent his broad Australian drawl to feigned - or possibly real - shock at the inappropriatenss of such a topic, "especially at lunchtime."

Anyway, I managed to get through my first full-length sunbaking session without so much as a splotch of pinkness, which means I'm either growing immune to the Aussie sun or more adept at applying great gobs of sunscreen, even to those parts of my body that are exceedingly hard to identify, let alone reach. Though even as I type this, I notice a slight redness to my arms, which mostly dissipates as soon as I take my glasses off. I put it down to the dreadful fluorescent lighting in this internet cafe which has come to serve as my second home here in Sydney.

Possibly not for long, however; my latest crisis is that my bank card won't work in the ATMs here, which means I'll be out of money within a day or so if some solution doesn't materialise. In order to resolve it I need to call the bank back in England, but since they've been shut down for the holidays, and only open about the time that sensible people here in Australia start going to bed, it's not the easiest thing to get through to them. It's simply a matter of luck that I have enough prepaid credit to keep me going at the internet cafe for a few more hours, but after that, who knows what will become of me? Should this happen to be the last blog post you ever read from me, direct all enquiries and complaints to Barclays Bank, London. It could be that I've been excised as one of their numerous cost-cutting initiatives.

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